This is the eleventh post in a series about spirituality, time, and place and how our stories play out relative to these realities. Find the previous posts here:
You Are Your Stories
Own Your Story
Is Now Really All We Have?
Where Did You Come From?
Where Are You Going?
A Bigger Story
Where Are You Now?
Healing Sick Spaces
Creating Sacred Spaces
Declutter Your Story
I have a paper problem!
Before computers could be found in almost every home and software could organise information, I struggled with paper. Every note, letter, and document would end up in an ever growing pile on my desk. Eventually, the size of the pile would get overwhelming and I would file everything. But this only started the process once again. And once something was filed, I seldom returned to it or could find it when needed. Which is why my first computer was a life saver as it released me from the tyranny of paper.
DEALING WITH CLUTTER
This story serves to illustrate what a problem clutter can be. The mental anxiety I lived with as my pile of papers grew robbed me of internal resources that could have been used much more creatively. The paper filling my physical space made it feel less safe and comforting. And the sense of failure at not being more organised undermined my spiritual health.
Last week we started exploring the value of decluttering our stories. Clutter is anything that takes up space (physically, temporally, mentally, relationally, emotionally, or spiritually) while adding no value. Decluttering looks different for everyone. Some of us need very structured, tidy spaces while others need free-flowing spaces with a more fluid arrangement. The point is to notice what feels cluttered for us—whatever drains our resources and makes our spaces feel oppressive and distracting. Three overarching principles can be identified to help us declutter:
- Identifying and removing clutter,
- Arranging the space,
- Sacredising the space.
This post goes into more detail and explores what decluttering might look like in the first two (of five) areas of our lives. The remaining three areas will be explored in next week’s post.
When we begin decluttering it can be helpful to begin with our physical space. For many of us, our physical environment is the easiest space to declutter. But I’m not talking about Marie Kondo minimalism. Yes, it can be helpful to remove anything from our lives that just fills up space and brings us no value. But it’s also about filling our space with things that do have value and that make our space feel more sacred.
In my studio where I work, play music, and spend time in solitude I have my musical instruments around me, artwork done by a valued friend, and symbols (like a dragon sculpture) that have meaning for me. But the space is arranged in a way that relaxes me and feels comfortable and inspiring. I love every moment I spend in this space.
Most of us get overwhelmed regularly from all the information we have to process. Our email inboxes are too full and we can’t keep up with all the sources of input we want to monitor. If we’re not careful, our social media streams can exert a relentless pull on our minds. And there is never enough time to read (or space to store) all the books, magazines, and journals we want to read. Add the plethora of fake news, conspiracy theories, and misinformation and it’s not surprising we live with cluttered minds!
Decluttering our minds does not mean we have to censor everything except what we want to hear. But it does mean being intentional about removing all that is empty, meaningless, futile, and interesting-but-not-relevant. We may need to cancel some email subscriptions, resist the temptation to click on some links, and turn off some channels. But, perhaps more importantly, we will need to become more ruthless about prioritising what stretches us, grows us, and truly informs us.
How cluttered is your physical space? How cluttered is your mental space? What can you do to begin to declutter these two areas of your life?
Let’s encourage and help one another by sharing our personal experiences and thoughts in the comments below. Over to you!
NEXT WEEK: Temporal Decluttering, Emotional and Relational Decluttering, and Spiritual Decluttering.
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